How to choose your winrate?

In this article, you will get an idea of basic math concepts, ignorance of which can lead to defeats and loss of money. After you carefully read this to the end, your perception of how to make money in poker will change forever.These concepts are applicable to any stakes and any types of online poker cash games.Using the recommendation, this article provides you are guaranteed to increase your winrate and profits. We cannot influence your poker skill, but we can easily increase you winrate!

So, do you know that:

  • There are NL/PLO 1000+ high skill regulars that make less money than some NL/PLO 200-600 regulars do?
  • There are NL/PLO 1000+ regulars that feel very comfortable at those stakes, but also are less skilled than some good NL/PLO 200-400 regs?
  • There are very tough NL/PLO 50-200 regulars (best at their stakes) that, despite of their obviously very deep understanding of the game, cannot move up in stakes.

Looking at these facts it becomes clear that the skill level is not the only thing that affects the income in poker.

So what else influences profits so much?

 It is the correct table selection with the opponents we want to see at our tables. It is quite obvious: the more you want to win, the more someone has to lose at your table (in poker, just as anywhere else, money is not made “out of thin air”).So, we are going to talk about modern methods of table selection, key factors of which are math and software technology.If table selection increases profits, ignoring it is clearly –EV and simply unprofessional. In today's world, table selection should be given no less attention than working on your game.

In this article, you will find specific tools you can use to increase your winrate today.

How regulars usually approach table selection?

  • Play any table with any fish player;
  • Play any table with a fish player that has VPIP of 40+;
  • Play any table with a fish player that has a winrate of -40bb/100 and worse

Let's take the 3rd option as an example (it is the best of all 3) and assess the winrate regular can hope for, selecting tables with a fish player that has a winrate of -40bb/100 and worse.Let’s say you are an average 50NL regular. The rake would be around 8bb/100 at this stake (even higher for PLO). It means you have a negative winrate of -8bb/100 right from the moment you joined the table, so you need some positive factors, which can compensate for the rake and give you some more to make profit eventually.

Positive factors:

  • Edge over regulars;
  • Money you make from fishy players;

Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to cover the negative winrate of -8bb/100 by outplaying regulars. And even if you have enough edge to do so, it still only brings you to the breakeven point! So it is clear that in order to cover for the rake and make some money on top of it, you need a fish at your table!

Let's get back to our example where you select tables with a -40bb/100 fish. Let's also assume that against other regulars you play breakevenly, not taking rake into account.

Now we can calculate the expected winrate at this kind of table (6max):

Hero Winrate = (Fish Loserate – Fish Rake) / Number of regs – Hero Rake=(40 - 8) / 5 - 8 = -1.6 bb/100

Why do we also subtract rake from fish loserate? Because fish is losing 40bbs per 100 hands overall, and 8bbs (or even more) he also loses to the poker room in a form of rake, the rest goes to other players at the table.


So, when you select a table with -40bb/100 fish, you still lose money playing at it!

And it's not because you're a bad player, no, it's because you have to pay 8bb/100 for an opportunity to play in the room. So without rake your winrate is 6.4bb/100 and with rake -1.6bb/100! You can say – what are you talking about, I am making 3bb/100 and often I play with not as bad of a players as in the example. Well, it happens because sometimes you get even worse players with -60bb/100, -80bb/100 and -100bb/100 at your tables. Those tables cover up for the ones with not so bad players.


Just exclude all negative tables and replace them with positive ones, and it will affect your winrate immediately!

In the hero winrate formula, we can only influence one variable and it is fish loserate! Enter an actual average rake of your stakes and your desirable winrate to estimate minimal fish loserate needed for you to make that much. This loserate of a fish player is the main criteria of table selection.

For example, if you want to make 10bbs per 100 hands at 50NL with average rake of -8bb/100.
Hero Winrate = (Fish Loserate – Fish Rake) / Number of regs – Hero Rake
10 = (Fish Loserate – 8)/5 – 8.
Fish Loserate = 98бб/100

Thus, without any changes in your skill level, you can have a winrate of 10bb/100 today, if you start selecting tables with fish players that lose at least 98bbs per 100 hands.
Notice that with approach like that you can actually have a winrate of 10bb/100, it is not some kind of fantasy, it is a mathematically estimated reality.

Using mathematical approach to table selection, you can consciously choose your winrate!

What can happen if you start selecting tables well:

  • Your winrate and profit will increase
  • The higher the winrate, the less you are affected by streaks (and therefore, less exposed to tilt)
  • Poker will once again bring you pleasure and joy
  • You will be able to make money, playing poker any time you want, by using basic mathematics of table selection.

You may think it is unrealistic to find so many whales, but it is only about the organization of the table selection, and next we will explain how to do it in details.


  1. Where do we find enough of fish players like that?


To do so you need to expand the field of selection, i.e. add as many rooms as possible and select from few stakes at once. At the same time, your attention should be focused only at the game, while process of fish finding should be completely automated. It is for these purposes the auto-seating scripts have long existed. As for today, the fastest and the most functional one is Using it, you can select tables from up to six largest poker rooms and networks simultaneously, without being distracted from the game. Wherein tables of the same room will be arranged in a single grid (tile) which is very convenient.
When you start selecting table from different rooms and different stakes, you would never lack whales at your tables.


Frequently asked questions.

MagicSeat is not free, is it possible to play without it?

MagicSeat license pays off after only few sessions. If you play in a room where many people already use scripts, then without MagicSeat you would have to play with average fish and wait in huge queues for an opportunity to play with a whale. Alternatively, you would have to open new tables and play 3-4 max with regulars, which is very unprofitable due to rake.If you play Omaha or Cap tables, where scripts are not as popular for now, MagicSeat would give you huge advantage, since you will never miss a fish and will always have the best position relative to the fish player. Same goes for every poker room where scripts aren’t as broadly used.



In modern online-poker, the use of scripts and multirooming are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Moreover, the probability of getting up the stakes without professional approach to the table selection is close to zero due to high rake.


  1. How to estimate the loserate of a fish with little sample size?


You may not have enough stats on a fish player since he does not play regularly and could play different stakes. Besides, you have to erase database from time to time. Nevertheless, for these purposes there is a website (it’s free). This website gives all the player info on click (including loserate) and works with largest rooms and networks (PokerStars, 888, iPoker, WPN, Chico, MPN) for both NL and PLO.


  1. Main mistakes and misconceptions.


  1. If a player selects tables very thoroughly every time, he probably lacks skill and improves very slowly.

 It is a very big and a very costly misconception. Regulars always think of it as a dilemma, whether they should work on their game or select tables more thoroughly. It is actually more rational to do both. Picking only one of two virtues is a mistake. If you carefully select tables, you can still work on your game. Moreover, you can solve the problem of table selection with the help of certain software, and then you can focus on working on your game. Also good table selection inevitably improves your winrate, so you can climb up the stakes quicker. The higher stakes you player, the tougher regulars you have to face and the faster you improve your game. Thus, table selection contributes to a more dynamic skill growth.


  1. I have enough games.

Okay, let’s assume you got used to playing 6 tables and it’s easy for you to find that many in a single poker room. However, it comes down to the quality and profitability of these tables. Even if at every table, you have a fish with -60bb/100 winrate, by extending table selection and adding few more rooms and stakes you can have those same 6 tables but with huge whales (like -80bb/100 and worse), and this will immediately affect your winrate and profits.
You will anyway be forced to play more than one room starting from 200NL, so why don’t you start earlier?


  1. Inability to close breakeven tables.

 This is a very common mistake among players who are just starting to use the table selection. If you organize MagicSeat correctly, you will be “drowning” in weak tables. You don’t have to play tables you are used to play. Follow your own criteria of table selection and ruthlessly close tables with mediocre fish players. You make no money at these tables, but they take a lot of your time and focus. Why would you agree to play with a mediocre fish when you can get a huge whale in a matter of minutes?
Do not hesitate, close breakeven tables and your winrate will grow rapidly.


  1. Player pool at PokerStars is clearly the toughest so I never play there.

Estimating the player pool is an incorrect approach to begin with. You should not care much about regulars’ skill level. All you need is to estimate the profitability of a particular table at which you are going to play. If there’s a -100bb/100 fish at some PokerStars table, you can easily make money at this table, no matter what regulars are around. And there are enough whales at PokerStars. So excluding PS from your table selection routine is a big mistake that leads to a decrease of income.


  1. I can’t play any other room but PokerStars, because it provides great software, while others don’t.

This is actually a matter of habit. Nowadays we have many applications, which can help you adjust any poker room to the point it won’t be any different from PokerStars. Usually, affiliates are happy to provide their players with these apps. Multirooming is much easier with MagicSeat, which also puts tables from different rooms in one grid.



Poker is your business.
Fish players are your clients that bring you money. Some bring more, some less.
You can’t play at the tables for free, you have to pay rake. It means a client at your table should lose enough to cover your expenses and provide profit.
You can expand your business handily. In an ordinary offline-business environment, you have to spend a lot of time and money to open a second store, but in online poker, you only need 2 hours to set up a new poker room. Ignoring this opportunity is nothing less than an unprofessional approach and a wasteful attitude to your business.


Please understand that there is no fish deficit. There is a narrow selection field, which you can easily expand. There are fish players in other rooms too, and quite big ones. And they are waiting for you to entertain them! (Not for free, of course J).

So expand the table selection field, arm yourself with modern software and start making more money in the very next session of yours.


Share this article with people you care about.